Re-Framing ‘My Origin Story’

In my blog: “Re-visiting My Origin Story”- posted on 13.02.17, I had reflected on the speculative nature of the Kaunitoni Migration story that links the settlement of other parts of the Fiji Group back to movements of people from Nakauvadra which is linked further back to Veiseisei and  the Vuda landing of the early Fijians. Due to such speculation, I had concluded that my origin story could only go as far back as the foothills of the Medrausucu Range (Waimaro area) and not beyond that. However, I am aware of one specific story that has been told about the link to Nakauvadra from the Waimaro area and I have referred to this in the past essentially to shed light on the speculation, rather than giving substance to the same.

In the light of the evidence that I have been able to compile, I have to say that I am very much comforted by the conclusion I had drawn.  Any linking of Ravuravu to Nakauvadra is historically inconsistent.

The evidence I have been able to compile includes that sourced from the Fiji History Community Talanoa with Mr Sepeti  Matararaba on 13 June and 20 July 2017. Mr Matararaba, at the grand old age of 78, is currently contracted as a Consultant Archeologist with the Fiji Museum. He has worked extensively in the exploration of early Lapita sites throughout Fiji. Other evidence includes those sourced from various archeological and early human history articles in the issues of ‘Domodomo’ Vol.12, No. 1, 1999 and Vol. 25, No. 1 & 2, 2012, et al. ‘Domodomo’ is the Scholarly Journal of the Fiji Museum.

The evidence provides that Ravuravu’s settlement of Dravuni at the end of his long journey from Viti Levu, Lomaiviti, Lau, Natusara on Ono Island in Kadavu and thence Dravuni, took place before Nakauvadra was settled.

Dating of ceramic shreds on Yaukuve Levu next to Dravuni and which was settled at the same time as Dravuni places the period of settlement on Dravuni from 300 BC – 1450 AD. This is after Ono Island and Kadavu main land had been settled. Settlement on Kadavu main land itself is dated 550 BC, about 500 years after the earliest Lapita arrival at Bourewa , Nadi, in 1100 BC.

Dating as regards Nakauvadra, on the other hand, is from about 1400-1600 AD. The Vuda Phase in the context of culture historical sequence, and linked to Nakauvadra, is dated 950 AD – 1450 AD. Clearly, the Vuda landing and the subsequent settlement of Nakauvadra are linked to post-Lapita migration. Ravuravu on the other hand is linked to the early Lapita migration.

If I were to extend the source of my origin story to beyond the foothills of Medrausucu Range, in the interest of completing the story, I would have to seriously consider, without hesitation, linking to Bourewa. This of course would inevitably relate to Ravuravu’s own ancestors. Ravuravu was more likely to have been born in the Waimaro area. For the purpose of my origin story, therefore, it can all end there.

What I can still discuss however is how Ravuravu’s  journey: in the general direction of Lomaiviti, Lau and Kadavu, in that order, can be supported by evidence. Dating statistics appear to be generally supportive. For example, the Lapita site on Naitabale on Moturiki in Lomaiviti is dated 1050-550 BC and for Kadavu, it is 550 BC. That for Lakeba by Archeologist Simon Best is much later at 1300 BP (equivalent to 650 AD). It is possible however that there were different strands of migration through Lau over a long period. Sepeti Matararaba from Lomati Village on Matuku, for example, confirmed that his ancestors came from Waimaro, the same general area where Ravuravu hailed from. I am aware that the Ravuravu clan established the village of Natokalau, also on Matuku. What remains to be seen is any dating of settlement on Matuku in general. This has not been done, according to Sepeti Matararaba. When and if done, it may just point to the fact that there could have been a migration strand that looped around Lomaiviti to Lau and thence to Kadavu. The affirmation of such a loop remains a work in progress.

In the interests, however, of completeness and good order, I can still reflect on how Ravuravu’s ancestors got to Waimaro from Bourewa. This, admittedly, is engaging into further speculation. Such cannot be avoided, given the antiquity of the event and the scarcity of the evidence. At least, I have been able to pin-down a level of historical certainty that has removed some degree of speculation.

Migration from Bourewa could only be done either on land or partially by sea.  The former was likely if the ancestors were driven by the search for more agricultural land and a supply of fresh water and if/or their old canoes had not been replaced due to lack of suitable timber. The latter would have involved sailing up the coast to present-day Namosi, for example, and venturing inland, on foot, following river flats.

All in all, it can be said that My Origin Story can be traced back to the earliest Lapita settlement in Bourewa, Nadi. This was part of the Lapita migration story. According to Professor Patrick Nunn, the ancestors of the Lapita people had their earliest-known origins in southern China and Taiwan, from where about 6-7000 years ago (about 4050-5050 BC), they began to migrate. They travelled south through the Philippines to Halmahera, thence east to the outer islands of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. About 3500 years ago (about 1550 BC), there was a great outward migration of the Lapita people from western Melanesia, which led to them settling the entire region between New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga within a few hundred years.


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